The stroppy young male kiwi, Kapai, had no idea it was struggling to escape one of New Zealand’s more famous knees. But the leg’s owner, Michael Campbell, 2005 US Open Golf Tournament winner, was very aware of the privilege he had in holding a six-month-old Northland Brown Kiwi.
Moments later, Kapai was released into the wild at Kauri Cliffs Waiaua Farm, near Matauri Bay, joining at least 20 other brown kiwi on this block of private land.
Kapai had been rescued from an effluent drain on an Okaihau dairy farm, weighing less than 300 grams. Now, after being hand raised by New Zealand Kiwi Foundation member, Gay Blunden, he weighed one kilogram and was big enough to better defend himself against stoats.
To prepare for the young bird’s release, the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation has worked with Kauri Cliffs’ owners, Josie and Julian Robertson, to make sure effective pest management is in place to protect Kapai and his fellow kiwi.
Encouraging private landowners to protect kiwi is a big part of what drives the Kiwi Foundation since it began in 1999. The charitable trust was set up “to promote and facilitate the implementation of positive measures to protect and enhance kiwi populations on privately owned land.” Today it has six Trustees, more than 100 members and five full-time equivalent staff whose jobs take them all over the Far North District, trapping and poisoning animal pests.
As part of its work, the Foundation is targeting the huge amount of land development underway in the Far North District. Development is occurring precisely where the largest populations of kiwi remain – on the eastern seaboard, from Helena Bay in the south to Whakaangi (Berghan Point) in the north. The Foundation encourages developers to protect and enhance any kiwi-friendly bush on the land they own, and lobbies for pet–free zones and pet management systems in new subdivisions. The New Zealand Kiwi Foundation also shares examples of good practice and bad practice in its quarterly newsletters which are available on its website.
“One recent development near Kerikeri used a clear earth approach, replacing some of the best kiwi habitat we had with a sterile environment of grass and exotic plants,” says Foundation convenor, Greg Blunden. “Contrast that with what happened not very far away, on the Kerikeri Peninsula. There the developer protected and enhanced the bush to encourage kiwi, and covenanted the land to maintain a predator control system and stop new owners from keeping pets. We would love this to happen everywhere.”
Along with encouraging private landowners to mind their kiwi, the Foundation also works to raise people’s awareness about the role domestic cats and dogs play in killing kiwi, and to provide advice and share skills on how to identify kiwi sign, and catch rats and possums.
Size of area under protection
As at March 2006, the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation either manages or helps with kiwi work on private land covering more than 13,000 hectares. Most is in Far North District, but some is in Whangarei District.
The largest amount of land is contained in kiwi project areas (Kerikeri, Russell, Purerua/Te Tii, Kauri Cliffs, Paitu (Kaeo), Airstrip Rd (Otangaroa), East Herekino, Whangape, and Paponga). However, virtually all legally protected private land with kiwi in the Far North has integrated predator management. Most of these blocks have Queen Elisabeth II National Trust covenants in place.
The biggest challenge
Greg says the biggest challenge is to find sufficient funding to maintain integrated predator control in the long-term. And skilled professional pest managers are becoming hard to find at a reasonable cost. Administrative costs are a significant challenge on a daily basis.
The New Zealand Kiwi Foundation can celebrate a number of successes since it began in 1999, including expanding the area under control to help protect kiwi and having landowners come to the Trust for assistance. “There is much greater awareness out there now, Greg says. “Maori landowners are seeking ways to protect their taonga.”
Other successes include creating local employment by training pest managers, and enabling landowners to look after their property by devolving pest management back to them.
Greg says the Foundation has enjoyed support from the following quarters:
- Kiwis for kiwi has provided essential support in the Foundation’s formative years, and continues with terrific funding initiatives and publicity
- WWF – New Zealand and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board were the first to provide funding for trappers in 2001
- ASB Trusts has provided funding for pest management equipment
- The government’s Biodiversity Advice and Condition Funding money has increased in recent years, and now provides base funds for the Foundation’s activities
- Pub Charity is easy and quick to access to meet local requirements
- District and Regional Councils provide support from their environment funds
- And finally, donations and members’ contributions can be substantial, he says.
The one most important thing
The most important thing for kiwi care groups is to be the landowners and/or have the landowners’ buy-in – either through financial support or through in kind contributions. “Community initiatives don’t work without the community driving them,” Greg says.
If you would like to advice on some simple ways you can care for and encourage kiwi, or would like to volunteer to help the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation in its work, please contact convenor, Greg Blunden at:
Phone: 09 407 5243
Mobile: 021 710 441
Fax: 09 407 5246
Postal Address: PO Box 541, Kerikeri, New Zealand